Former Obama housing secretary weighing presidential run

Associated Press
Saturday, May 12, 2018

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro returned to New Hampshire on Saturday to give a commencement speech, sparking more speculation that he’s gearing up for a run for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

The former San Antonio, Texas, mayor and Obama administration official said he’ll decide on a White House run after the midterm elections, adding “by the end of the year I’m going to make a decision.”

Castro was in the first-in-the-nation primary state to deliver the commencement address at New England College in Henniker. The private, nonprofit school was founded after World War II by and for veterans, and says it’s the most diverse college or university in New Hampshire.

“You are exactly what our nation needs to prosper in this 21st Century,” he told the graduating students. “In this world where brain power is truly the new currency of success, you are our greatest hope to thrive in the years to come.”

Castro described the graduation ceremony as “a great victory for you and your family when you cross the stage but it’s also a tremendous victory for our country because in the years to come we need you and many, many, more like you.”

Castro met with longtime New Hampshire Democratic Party chairman Ray Buckley on the school’s campus following the commencement ceremony. Later in the day, he headlined a fundraiser in Nashua to help elect Democrats to the state House of Representatives.

The trip was Castro’s second to New Hampshire this year. New England College political science professor Wayne Lesperance, who introduced Castro at the commencement ceremony, joked that Granite Staters likely would see more of Castro over the next couple of years.

Castro, 43, predicted that his party’s next presidential nominee will be someone of his generation even though some of the possible 2020 Democratic presidential nominees are older. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, is 76; former vice president Joe Biden, 75; and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, is 68.

“Those folks are very, very talented, and they also have a good amount of support, but I get this sense when I go out there and talk to people, that’s just what I hear,” he said. “I believe people are ready for a new generation of leadership.”

Castro was one of four potential Democratic White House contenders in the Granite State this weekend, and one of two delivering commencement addresses. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is the commencement speaker today at Southern New Hampshire University.

Former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, the founder of the voting rights group Let America Vote, was scheduled to headline a Rockingham County Democrats clambake in Portsmouth on Saturday evening. Congressman John Delaney of Maryland, who last summer announced his candidacy for the White House, stopped by the Puritan Backroom restaurant Friday night. The longtime family owned establishment in Manchester is a must stop for White House hopefuls.